Automated Appraisals Don’t Paint the Whole Picture


The use of Automated Valuation Models (AVM) is expected to expand following
the announced plans of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to waive the requirement
for a professional appraisal on qualified purchase loans where the
loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is at or below 80 percent.  Fannie Mae had previously allowed this waiver
only for refinancing, while Freddie will now allow automated evaluation tools
for both purchase and refinancing loans when working with its Loan Advisor

CoreLogic’s Principal Economists Yanling Mayer, writing in the company’s Insights Blog, says these changes come
as the industry is hearing of shortages of certified and licensed appraisers,
especially in rural areas.  But there is
still controversy. The Appraisal Institute has raised safety and soundness
concerns over eliminating the appraisal requirement
and is seeking a
legislative rollback and federal banking regulations for real estate
transactions generally treat automated appraisal methods as a due diligence
tool rather than as the primary valuation.

Mayer says, from the perspective of economics, a clash between proponents of
the two methods seems inevitable, “as advanced analytics and big data
technology have expanded collateral evaluation capabilities. These alternatives
today are often powered by large databases that can capture information on a
given property as well as transaction records in and around the property in

While not attempting any conclusions about the accuracy of the valuations,
CoreLogic looked at the impact of automated evaluation on the LTV ratios of
purchase loans. These ratios are determined by the lower of contract purchase
price or the appraised value.

Traditional appraisals rarely come in below the contracted price, she puts
the incidence at about 10 percent of loan applications and a Fannie Mae study put
it at less than 4 percent of funded loans. 
Consequently, LTV is typically unaffected by the appraisal.

Quite the opposite is the case with AVMs. CoreLogic analyzed a 190,000-unit sample
of single family homes financed between July 2016 and June 2017 with a
traditional appraisal but for which a CoreLogic AVM value was also available.
The date of the AVM was not identical to that of the appraisal, but did not
vary by more than 3.5 months.

Figure 1 shows 31.6 percent of the appraisal values were exactly at the
contract price while 58.6 percent were slightly higher.  This left only 10 percent of the properties
appraised below the proposed purchase price. Thus, for the majority of the
homes, the purchase price effectively determined the origination LTV.

In Figure 2, the AVM values are also shown relative to the purchase price.  Those values were lower in 54.6 percent of
the cases and higher only 45.4 percent of the time. The AVM were more
symmetrically distributed around the purchase price, but with “thicker tails”
(larger percentages as outliers from the contract price, especially on the low end),
and thus greater uncertainty in the valuation
For the five out of nine properties with an AVM value below the purchase
price, the LTV ratios for these loans would be higher had the AVM valuations
been used instead of a traditional appraisal.

Mayer concludes that since an AVM has odds of 55 to 45 of coming in lower
than the purchase price, while the odds of this happening for a traditional
appraisal is 10 to 90.  Therefore,
increased AVM usage will increase the underwriting LTV on a greater number of
loans. The “fatter tail” of the distribution below the contract price also means
that upward adjustment will more often be larger than for a traditional

May says that while the debate will probably go on about the relative
accuracy of the two valuation methods as well as their usefulness in predicting
default risk and loan performance, everyone has to agree that reliable
information is needed about collateral risk in both loans and portfolios in
order to make informed underwriting and investment decisions.

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